All-natural Puerto Rican tobacco
from crop to the cropped end of your cigar
We Start in the Field
with High Quality Plants
The quality of a cigar starts with the quality of the plant. Knowing the variety of tobacco you are smoking and the type of soil it grows in are essential to understanding the complex flavors behind your smoke. Tobacco is a hardy plant that can grow in most climates, but it can take on different properties depending on how it is grown (the concept known as terroir). The acidity of the soil, the amount of sun, and the soil mineral content such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and nitrogen all have an affect on the flavor and the strength of the nicotine.
Countries such as Puerto Rico and Cuba have the perfect tobacco growing conditions due to an abundance of sunshine and their hot, dry weather. This gives the cigar a smoother taste and good burning properties. The majority of Puerto Rican tobacco is grown in soil with enough iron to create a slightly acidic soil pH between 5-6, which leads to a stronger aroma and a longer lasting tobacco flavor.
Our tobacco plants are grown in the mountains of Toa Alta where the rainfall is fresh and the air is pure. We pride ourselves on producing all-natural tobacco, which means that we do not use any chemicals or pesticides to treat our fields. It is grown, tended, and harvested by hand by local Puerto Rican farmers: embodying the idea of farm to table - or in our case mountain to cigar!
Don Collins cigars feature the legendary tobacco variety known as Hoja Prieta, one of three native tobaccos developed on the island over the centuries. Hoja Prieta is prized for being incredibly flavorful with a distinct aroma and taste- making it a premium ingredient in our production. It is also important to note that we employ Hoja Prieta for all three components: the filler, the binder and the wrapper to provide the highest quality cigar without any shortcuts. Our Churchill cigar is a carefully crafted blend of Hoja Prieta and premium Dominican/Honduran long filler tobaccos.
The Aging Process
Who says aging isn't a good thing?
At Don Collins we believe that tobacco, like people, only gets better with age. And that the aging process of our tobacco is essential to becoming well seasoned and full of flavor!
Once our leaves are cut they are deveined, inspected for quality, and sorted by size and texture. Then they are stored in wooden 'cigar cabinets' - a process known as air curing. Air curing is primarily reserved for cigar tobacco, and the slow aging is essential for producing good aroma and flavor because it keeps the natural essential oils in the leaves from evaporating compared to sun or fire curing methods.
For blended cigars the various tobacco leaves are stored in the same cabinet in order for the flavors to fully mix prior to wrapping.
Tobacco and wine share a lot of similarities from terroir to aging. Many people do not know that tobacco also has a fermentation step. After the leaves are cured they are stacked in a pile and allowed to self-heat under the pressure. This process allows the tobacco to 'sweat out' ammonia and impurities and develop it's final taste and aroma. It is an art, and an essential part of the flavor and quality of the tobacco.
Rolling with the Torcedors
Our tobacco leaves are hand selected, and our cigars are hand rolled using the same traditional methods that have been employed for generations. We believe that authentic quality and traditional methods just can't be beat.
Rollers are also known as Torcedors or Tabaqueros, and they rely on their expert skill and experience to craft the perfect cigar with only a few simple tools. First, the smaller leaves are chosen and bundled together with the thicker pieces in the middle and in such a way to ensure a smooth draw from the cigar. The bundles are sized and shaped based on the final cigar and then placed into wooden blocks made by experienced artisans from pine or aged oak. The blocks help shape the bundles and hold them until they are ready to be transformed into the final cigar.
Next Torcedors will select the widest, most aesthetically pleasing, and thinnest leaves for the wrapper and the next best leaves for the binder. They remove the central vein of the wrapper and binder leaves using a simple knife on a wooden block, and then moisten and smooth the leaves to make them more malleable.
The intricacies of the rolling process are difficult to describe. The roller uses his hands and his senses to gauge the weight and density of the bundle and to make sure that the size and shape of the wrapper is the perfect fit for each type of cigar. There is an art to the angle, the tightness of the wrapping, and how the ends are folded and sealed to ensure maximum freshness and a uniform shape and consistency.